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What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a federal program granting temporary protection from deportation, employment authorization, a social security number, and, for some, access to education and health benefits to certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. DACA is available to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before the age of 16 and meet other specific requirements.

To receive an eligibility screening for DACA by an accredited expert, contact us at  (408)453-3017  or see our list of upcoming DACA application workshops.

 

The Santa Clara County DACA Collaborative is made up of immigrant-serving, nonprofit organizations that provide DACA services.

 

To volunteer for one of SIREN's free DACA workshops, please contact Info@siren-bayarea.org

 

NOTE: This page contains general information and is not legal advice. Every case is different.

 

Nuevo Recurso para Manejadores con DACA

https://www.ilrc.org/daca-y-licencias-de-conducir-de-california

 

Benefits of DACA

Below are the top reasons for getting DACA, as identified by people who have received DACA.

  • Gain protection from deportation.
  • Get a social security number.
  • Get an Employment Authorization Card.
  • In some states, get a driver's license. (In California, get a standard, unmarked, drivers license instead of an AB 60 driver's license) 
  • Ability to apply for a bank account.
  • Ability to apply for a credit card.
  • Ability to pass a background check.
  • Gain the confidence and security to become politically active.

General Information

Renewing DACA

Safety & Privacy Information

Specific Circumstances

 


General Information

  • How do I qualify for DACA?

    • Came to the United States before your sixteenth birthday.
    • Have lived continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007.
    • Were born on or after June 16, 1981.
    • Not have a lawful immigration status. To meet this requirement (1) you must have entered the U.S. without papers before June 15, 2012, or, if you entered lawfully, your lawful immigration status must have expired before June 15, 2012; and (2) you must not have a lawful immigration status at the time of your application.
    • Be at least 15 years old. Note: if you are currently in deportation proceedings, have a voluntary departure order, or have a deportation order, and are not in immigration detention, you may request DACA even if you are not yet 15 years old.
    • Have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or U.S. armed forces, or “be in school” on the date that you submit your DACA application.
    • Have not been convicted of a felony offense. A felony is a federal, state, or local criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
    • Have not been convicted of a significant misdemeanor offense or three or more misdemeanor offenses.
    • Not pose a threat to national security or public safety. (DHS has not defined what these terms mean but has indicated that they include gang membership, participation in criminal activities, or participation in activities that threaten the U.S.)
  • Can I travel if I have DACA?

    After your DACA application is approved, you may be able to travel outside of the U.S. if you apply for, and receive, advance parole from USCIS. Advanced parole will only be granted if you have a humanitarian, professional, or academic reason for traveling. Be sure to check with an attorney or contact us before leaving the U.S. as receiving advance parole does not guarantee that you will be able to return to the U.S..

    If you travel outside of the U.S. before your DACA application is approved, you won’t be eligible for DACA. Note: you cannot apply for advance parole and DACA at the same time and you cannot apply for advance parole until after you have received DACA.

    You can find additional information about advance parole by watching this webinar provided by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network: https://cliniclegal.org/resources/webinars/webinar-travel-abroad-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca-recipients.

Renewing DACA

  • How do I renew DACA?

    The best way to renew your DACA is to

    • Contact us or another member of the Santa Clara County DACA Collaborative
    • Attend one of our upcoming DACA workshops.
  • When should I renew DACA?

    Use this calculator to determine your optimal DACA renewal date. The best time to renew DACA is 150 to 120 days before your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) expires. If you apply within this window of time and USCIS delays processing your application, USCIS may provide you deferred action and work authorization for a short period of time until a decision is made on your case. If you send your renewal application to USCIS more than 150 days before your DACA and EAD expire, USCIS may return your application to you. Note: the date range given is just the recommended time.

 

Safety & privacy information

  • How do I know that applying for DACA is safe? Will the government use the information I give them to try and deport me or my family members?

    United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) handles DACA applications. The USCIS agency does not deal with deportations under any circumstances. At worst, they may refer the case to another government agency. The information in a DACA request, including information about family members and guardians, will not be shared with other government agencies (including ICE and CBP) for the purpose of deportation UNLESS the DACA applicant is involved with certain criminal offenses, is found to have lied to USCIS, or is deemed a threat to public safety or national security.

    The information may be shared, however, with national security and law enforcement agencies, including ICE and CBP, for purposes other than removal, including:

    • Assisting in the consideration of the deferred action request.
    • To identify or prevent fraudulent claims.
    • For national security purposes.
    • For the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense.
    • This policy covers family members and guardians, in addition to you.

    Many people and immigrant advocacy organizations fought hard for the creation of the DACA program.  Organizations and community members will continue to advocate for the extension of the DACA program.  Should DACA be terminated at some point, remember that people who are granted DACA are, by definition, “low priorities” for deportation.

    If you are unsure about applying, contact us or speak to a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative.

  • What happens if I apply for DACA and my application is rejected? Will the government use the information I gave them to try and deport me or my family members?

    United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) handles DACA applications. The USCIS agency does not deal with deportations under any circumstances. At worst, they may refer the case to another government agency. USCIS will not share any of your personal information with another government agency simply because your DACA application was rejected. The information in a DACA request, including information about family members and guardians, will not be shared with other government agencies (including ICE and CBP) for the purpose of deportation UNLESS the DACA applicant is involved with certain criminal offenses, is found to have lied to USCIS, or is deemed a threat to public safety or national security.

    The information may be shared, however, with national security and law enforcement agencies, including ICE and CBP, for purposes other than removal, including:

    • Assisting in the consideration of the deferred action request.
    • To identify or prevent fraudulent claims.
    • For national security purposes.
    • For the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense.
    • This policy covers family members and guardians, in addition to you.

    If you have a criminal background, think your application may be rejected, or are unsure about applying, you should contact us or speak to a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative before applying.

  • What happens if I have DACA and then it expires? Will the government use the information I gave them to try and deport me or my family members?

    United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) handles DACA applications. The USCIS agency does not deal with deportations under any circumstances. At worst, they may refer the case to another government agency. USCIS will not share any of your personal information with another government agency simply because your DACA expired. The information in a DACA request, including information about family members and guardians, will not be shared with other government agencies (including ICE and CBP) for the purpose of deportation UNLESS the DACA applicant is involved with certain criminal offenses, is found to have lied to USCIS, or is deemed a threat to public safety or national security.

    The information may be shared, however, with national security and law enforcement agencies, including ICE and CBP, for purposes other than removal, including:

    • Assisting in the consideration of the deferred action request.
    • To identify or prevent fraudulent claims.
    • For national security purposes.
    • For the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense.
    • This policy covers family members and guardians, in addition to you.

    This being said, if your DACA expires, you will lose the benefits of DACA. If your DACA expires, you might also have “unlawful presence,” which could complicate your immigration case in the future. Make sure to renew your DACA before it expires or as soon as possible.

    See our "How to renew DACA" section above for information on how to renew DACA.

 

  • California Driver’s Licenses Once DACA Expires

    The end of the DACA program has drastic consequences for DACA holders across the United States.  One area of concern is around whether DACA recipients will still be eligible for driver’s licenses, and thus authorized to drive lawfully.  This practice advisory will address the driver’s license options for DACA holders in California, with information on what will happen when DACA expires, and step-by-step instructions on how to switch licenses if necessary.

 

Specific circumstances

  • Will I still qualify for DACA if I have a prior order of deportation or other prior immigration violations?

    Possibly. If you have any prior immigration violations, you should contact us or speak to a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative before applying.

  • I previously had a DUI, will I still qualify for DACA?

    If you have received a DUI, your DACA application will likely be rejected. You should contact us or speak to a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative before applying.

  • I've been using a fake name / fake social security number / information that wasn't mine. Will this affect my ability to apply for DACA or get employment authorization? Will it place me at risk if I apply?

    Possibly. You should contact us or speak to a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative before applying.

  • I have a deportation order, but I did not leave. Will this affect my ability to apply for DACA or place me at risk if I apply?

    You will still qualify for DACA even if you have a deportation order. However, you should contact us or speak to a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative before applying.

 

  • I have / had a case in front of an immigration judge, can I apply for DACA?

    Yes! If you qualify, you can apply for DACA. It doesn't matter that you have / had a case in Immigration Court. That being said, if you are or were in Immigration Court, contact us or speak to a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative before applying. You may need to send a copy of the papers from your immigration court case with your DACA request.

 

I want to apply for DACA but I'm still worried and have questions

If you want to apply for DACA but you still have questions:

  • You can come to one of the collaborative workshops, information sessions, or drop in hours at our different partner organizations.  
  • You can contact us or reach out to one of the other organizations in the Santa Clara County DACA Collaborative.

Don't live in the bay area? Visit www.weownthedream.org to find a nonprofit immigration legal service provider near you that can help.